Overload to Underload – Right Concept, Wrong Approach

Overload to Underload, Weighted BallsUsing the overload to underload approach to train a young pitcher’s arm and central nervous system to increase arm speed is the right concept but the wrong approach when using weighted baseballs on a young pitcher. The problem is with using weighted baseballs on a young pitcher, who more than likely does not have the motor coordination of high velocity mechanics, is that it sacrifices the arm to teach the body how to move weight more efficiently and quickly. To understand how backwards this weighted baseball approach is for the young pitcher we must first look at what role the arm plays in the entire pitching delivery.

The Role of the Arm in the Pitching Delivery

The role of the arm is to get into position to allow for the transfer of energy from the lower kinetic chain into the upper kinetic chain. Once this energy has transferred through the core, from the stride power into hip to shoulder separation, then into the shoulder, during external rotation, the arm’s role is to deliver the pitch to its desired location. Never does the arm work to generate pitching velocity on its own. It fires in reaction to the shoulder speeds that are the direct result of a power stride which converted into optimal hip to shoulder separation. To better understand this sequence of events through the entire kinetic chain, which leads to the top velocity of the pitcher, you need to learn the revolutionary approach to pitching velocity called 3X Pitching. 3X Pitching proves that to increase the coil of the shoulder during external rotation the pitcher must first increase linear stride power and then transfer that power into core torque at front foot strike through optimal hip to shoulder separation. Working first on the arm speed with weighted baseballs may increase internal to external rotation speeds through conditioning but it will not support optimal hip to shoulder separation which has been proven to hold the majority of a high velocity pitchers pitching velocity potential.

Why Weight Baseballs are NOT for Young Pitchers?

Based on the understanding of how pitching velocity is generated through the entire kinetic chain of the body stated above and also in the 3X Pitching approach, you can see that training with weighted baseballs, using an overload to underload approach, should not be used with young pitcher’s because it is only training the arm action of the entire delivery. It is not training the component, that the NPA proved in their 2005-2006 Velocity Study that 80% of velocity is generated from, which is hip to shoulder separation. Yes, this weighted ball approach may increase arm strength, using the weights, and may increase arm speed, through training the central nervous system to rotate the arm faster, but the final result will be much less effective for a young pitcher than taking a total body approach to velocity like with the 3X Pitching Velocity Program.

I used the Overload to Underload weighted baseballs throwing program for years. It happened that I was using this program the year I torn my rotator cuff when I was a young pitcher. I am not saying that this program was the reason for my tear but it did speed up the process of the injury. My problem was I had bad mechanics. I was an all arm pitcher and when I used this program it made everything even worse. The overloading with the weighted baseballs put more wear and tear on my cuff and in the end, even if I had added a few mph, it wouldn’t have been worth the extra wear and tear that came with it.

If you are looking to use weighted balls to increase pitching velocity, I really believe that you are looking for the easy answer here. Increasing pitching velocity is first developing yourself into a power athlete and then developing the motor coordination of power pitching mechanics like with the 3X Pitching mechanics. The 3X Pitching Velocity program gives you all of this with a revolutionary approach to increase pitching velocity. This approach uses the famous 3X Velocity System throwing program to develop the 3X Pitching mechanics and the famous Fusion System which is the strength and conditioning program to develop you into an elite power pitcher. So, stop looking for the easy way out and get serious with a pitching velocity program that actually teaches you high velocity mechanics like with 3X Pitching!

* The 3X Pitching Velocity Programs does use the weight baseballs in the 3 Level of the program after the young pitcher has developed good high velocity pitching mechanics.

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  1. says

    I promise you using these drills alone will not help you reach your velocity goals. You need a program that trains and coaches all facets of the power pitcher. For example: mechanics, nutrition, strength and conditioning, anaerobic training, etc…

  2. michael says

    no no, I never meant to use heavier balls than 20% rule. I ordered a 4oz and a 6oz all I will use besides a football

  3. says

    Michael, actually this is a quote from ASMI's Dr. Glenn Feisig on this topic:

    "The bottom line is that the research seems to point to using underweight and overweight balls that are only slightly lighter or slightly heavier than the normal ball. Specifically for baseball, stay between 4 oz and 6 oz balls. (A standard baseball is 5 oz.)

    If you want to use a significantly heavier or lighter ball, you will not be using proper baseball pitching mechanics. Therefore, ASMI's recommendation is to avoid these type of balls in-season, as you may mess up your pitching mechanics. Using very light or very heavy balls out of season may have benefit, as you can develop general athleticism and fitness."

    I believe that the more ASMI studies this approach the more they will not advise it. This is why I stand with my opinion on overweight to underweight ball training.

  4. says


    Hype is placed on this program by misinformed coaches who have the audacity to use this as a sole method of gaining velocity. It is used as one component of my program. Maybe in 10 years we'll have more data and be able to definitively prove either positively or negatively what the program holds. As for now, I have quantified results from injury-free pitchers that utilized the program, and I believe the o/u played at least a small part of their successes. Keep up the good work on your website.

  5. says

    Your comment sounds too much like a guarantee on a diet pill.

    “If you take our diet pills everyday, while eating a balanced diet and exercising 4-5 times a week for at least an hour each time, you will loss 5-10 pounds in a month!”

    You are rationalizing a program that has more hype than positive results. I agree with everything you say you do along with the u/o throwing program. I just believe the u/o throwing program will cause more harm than good.

  6. says

    On the topic of the NPA o/u throwing protocol, I do incorporate these teaching methodologies in accordance to a strict adherence to proper throwing mechanics, appropriate age levels, and lastly in conjunction with a functional strength workout for the core, legs, and decelerating muscle groups. Our Velocity Development Camp runs a length of 7-8 weeks long, and has seen no less than an average of 4.2 mph increase in velocity. What has been more impressive is that our students are retaining their top velocities beginning the following season. It is not a magic bullet however. A marriage of all of the above mentioned components with proper nutrition and hydration practices will allow pitchers the greatest chance at reaching their genetic ceilings.

  7. Seth says

    I respect your opinions but it seems that is strictly what this article is – an opinion. I applaud your energy and attitude about helping others in this misinformed baseball world, but please show us what research has led you to your conclusions.

    The weighted ball program you show in the picture is indeed a terrible program. You are only supossed to throw 20% of the orignal weight of a baseball – less or more. Basically meaning a 20% of a 5oz. ball is 1 oz. Consequently only work with a 4 oz ball and a 6oz balls during weight trainig. VDP (velocity development program) has an excellent SAFE weighted ball program. Google it.

    Anything more than 6oz and less than 4 oz you are putting major stress on your shoulder capsule and can lead to serious injury (see: the author of this article).

    "The underloading with the lighter ball gave me the illusion that I was throwing harder but it really is only an illusion. Just like the illusions of throwing harder when you move from throwing 300 feet to 60 feet."

    Really? That is not why underloaded balls are used. Underloaded balls are used to train the tiny fast twitch muscles in your arm. Strengthening them does not directly make you throw harder. Instead, by strengthening your fast twitch micro-muscles your arm trusts itself to be thrown harder. Your brain will only accelerate your arm as fast as it knows it can decellerate it. AKA Your brain will only allow your arm to go as fast as it knows it can slow it down after you let go of the ball.

    I've enjoyed your articles including long distance running, poor posture and scap loading. But please, before you advise uninformed kids to eliminate very beneficial weighted ball training (IF DONE WITH PROPER MECHANICS) please do research, talk to people. And read about the NPA (National pitching association), backed by Tom House a doctor with 40 years in baseball and has taught thousands of kids and hall of famers (Nolan Ryan, Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson, etc etc).

    Let me know what you think…

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